Not Giving Up… by Alice

Our newest submission is from Alice. 

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So. My name is Alice, and I have depression. And anxiety. And ‘panic disorder’, apparently, though I’m still not entirely sure what the difference between that and anxiety is. I don’t know if you’ll want to use this for your blog, because nobody’s heard of me, and I’d rather you didn’t use my surname, so even if they had they wouldn’t know who I was. But I’m an atheist, and a scientist, and I have depression.

I was diagnosed four years ago, when I was seventeen. Over the period of a few months my self-esteem (always fragile) had finally given up the ghost and left me. I was crying at everything, I was sure I would fail my college courses and I felt utterly alone. One day things finally got too much, and I called my dad to come pick me up. I cried the whole way home, and told him I needed to go to the doctor, because I didn’t like the person I was becoming. Of course, back then, I had no idea of just how bad things would get. I could not possibly imagine the person my illness would force me to become.

Over the course of my illness I have become a different person. I became a complete recluse. I would lie curled up on my bed facing the wall and sobbing silently while I waited for my friends to go away because I could not face the idea of telling them I was having a bad day. Again. I had my first panic attack in public, and was utterly convinced I would die. Worse, I wasn’t sure that was the worst thing that could happen to me. I spent countless hours in toilet stalls, waiting to be able to breathe properly and not cry so I could rejoin the world. My life has changed irrevocably, and I can never go back to how I was before.

Being an atheist throughout this has not been easy. Sometimes I wish that I did believe in some kind of higher power. I’ve been told that God only sends people as much pain as they can take. I wish I had any belief in God because that would mean believing that I can take this pain. But I don’t. Sometimes that’s been incredibly isolating. Without a God, the only person I can have faith in is me. And all too often I doubt my own ability to survive my brain’s assault. Whenever I’ve found myself in a church over the past few years, I have begged God to take my illness the hell away. When I was suicidal, the thought of an afterlife was attractive, although ultimately I chose not to face it. And now I’m getting better, I find my atheism increasingly comforting. I chose to live. I believe more in my own strength, my own desire to fight and my own sheer bloody-minded stubbornness, even in the face of my brain trying its level best to kill me.

I don’t know if I’m through the worst yet, although I believe (and I desperately hope) I am. The fight has been long, and it has been hard, and it is not over yet. I have a lot to learn about being healthy. I am, however, learning. I will continue to fight. And, above all, I want anyone who reads this, while fighting their own fight, to know that I’m right beside them, and I’m not giving up yet.

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About shatteringthestigma

An open blog taking submissions from skeptics and skeptic friendly individuals on the subject of mental health.

Posted on January 15, 2012, in anxiety, Depression and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I do hope you are through the worse. My family’s life has been blighted by depression and I know that the only things that help are a good doctor, love and support of friends and family and a belief in yourself.

    I wish you all the best.

  2. Kompani (@kompani101)

    Thanks for your great article. I am a 54 year old male, an Atheist whom has depression plus it’s hangers on (panic/anxiety). What gives me strength is knowing that I am in full control, although t doesn’t feel like it sometimes, of my recovery. In 2011 I had 6 months off work due to a very desperate episode but I knew there would be a point when I would be ‘better’. To said ‘thanks’ to myself for getting through it I treated myself to a great festive season.
    Many years ago when I had my first bad depression I was terrified that I would not survive. Now I know I shall and do. The bad depressive episodes are much less frequent as medicine keeps it at bay for the majority of time. Everyone I know, family / friends / work are aware of my illness and I have made sure they know what it’s like for me. Since they have had the information they have been brilliant. I don’t hide it or feel ashamed of it as it is part of me and I work around it. Alice, I wish you all the best and know you’ll find a way to get on with life.

  3. I think I’ll use this to tell other people how I felt at my worst. I’ve never been able to explain it so well. And I’m glad I can feel more comforted by knowing other humans go through what I do and fight their own fight rather than a god. I also feel so much stronger knowing I (and some understanding friends) got me out of the worst, I know if it starts to take over me again, that I’ve already got what I need to help myself, I do t need to wait for devine help.

  4. I have a panic disorder too and know exactly how you feel. Sometimes its really tough, but I try not to let my illness hold me back from anything I would want to do if I were healthy. As an atheist, I can’t use faith as a crutch, but knowing that my problems are just a result of brain chemistry, and not some trial visited on me by an inscrutable deity for my “spiritual growth”, helps me to deal with them and not feel like I’m failing when I struggle.

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